Council People may have met Jason Harborow out on the road on the 08 bus but his own ambitions - for the city and for himself - are more sky-high than just getting from A to B.
The Liverpool Culture Company chief tells us why this city is on a roll and how after a great 2008, 2009 and beyond will be just fine too! (Doesn't make sense, but let that pass)
For you where did the road to the Culture Company start? (ditto)
I left school at 16 and went on a Youth Training Scheme and began working as a lifeguard in a sports centre, so right from the start I have always worked in sport and leisure. I came to this part of the world to work for Wirral Borough Council and settled here. To be given a chance to be involved with what I consider to be my home city (despite the fact that I have a wooly back accent and wouldn't know one end of the city from another) was an opportunity too good to be missed.
I love work and I love what I am involved in now. (especially the huge dosh and the freebies)
Tell us about your school days. Were you a swot or a skiver?!
Neither really! (I was just a hairy-arsed blagger) I was good at sports and got through school being the best rugby player and the best sprinter and that enabled me to get round teachers in a way that I might otherwise not have been able to! I loved school and threw myself into school life in a big way. (Then I got excluded for trying to sell the other kids bikes at break-time)
I'm one of those sad parents who tells their children their school days are the best days of their lives! [Jason has a six-year old daughter as well as two stepchildren]. (although the Culture Company has been like a bloody kids playground ever since I was put in charge)
What's it like working in Liverpool?
Very challenging. Everyone knows everyone, (except we don't know who that Tony Parrish fella is) everybody's got an opinion on everything. These are all things that can conspire against you if you don't approach them in a positive way but if you do, it can also be your greatest strength. (and I can always fuck off to Spain with the proceeds anyway)
All eyes are on the Culture Company. How do you cope with some of the press coverage?
There's no other local organisation that has the scrutiny the Culture Company has. (This is me talking utter bollocks of course, but she is still writing it all down - we have got away with absolute murder. No one knows where all the money has gone. Lets keep it that way).That does come with its pressures and there are times when we feel that the criticism is not as fair as it could be but I have to keep the team motivated and keep them well informed so they don't find out things through the papers. (I am taking the piss here - staff get the mushroom treatment from me)
Generally, the media is very kind to us (especially since we have bought off the Echo, Post, Radio City and Murkeyside) and we have always got to take it on the chin. You're always going to have a mixture of good and bad and it's a question of being able to deal with it, of being mature. (So when things like Mathew Street happen, I won't go running away from the TV cameras like an overgrown schoolboy and then hide away in Spain counting my loot and pretending I have done nothing wrong.)
What has been the highlight since you've joined the Culture Company?
The way in which the perception of Liverpool has clearly changed. When I used to go down to London in 2004 you still used to hear all the old stereotypical jokes and comments whereas now we are looked upon as a serious operator, a grown-up city and are asked for advice and guidance. (I am really taking the piss now. We have, of course set back Liverpool's image for decades because of our mishandling and incompetence. No-one listens to us in Whitehall or Westminster. We have spent a fortune on personal PR for me and my mates in the Culture Company and it still hasn't worked. And we have betrayed the city and thrown away its best chance in a generation. But I am laughing all the way to the bank, suckers!)
Come 1 January 2009, what will Liverpool be left with, other than a sore head?!
08's main legacy will be confidence. (Did I really say that? And they have put it in the paper too! Gullible fools!) We need to be proud of what we have here and get used to talking it up like other cities which have undergone a big change like Manchester.
Also, I don't think we really understand yet the impact the Arena and Convention Centre Liverpool will have. (Chas will get very rich from it and will look after his mates)
You're now heading up the Culture, Media and Sport portfolio, what excites you about that?
I am lucky really, I've got the fun portfolio! (and £150 grand a year with 10 per cent Performance Related bonus every year. Its fookin fantastic. And I don't have to do a dickey bird except cock things up! The fireman and his fools have fallen for me getting a job with the council hook, line and sinker!) It's very high profile in that everything we do is public-facing. Coming up, we've got the new 50-metre pool opening and the refurbishment of Central Library. But our main job when 2009 arrives is that we don't slip into the situation where there's not as much happening as before. (This is meaningless gibberish, but she is writing down every fucking word I say, I can't believe it!! I hope she doesn't ask how many jobs will have been created, how many lives have been changed for the better, or how many deprived communites in Liverpool have been given new hope and investment. Because its a big, fat zero - unlike my bank balance. Bloody hell, what a great life I've got. Pass me a raspberry ripple, someone.)
Any ambitions left?
To get my pilot's licence. (And to fly away from here as fast as possible)
Where do you see yourself in 10 years' time?
Happy! And spending more time with my family. (Chillin' in the hacienda)